In March 2021, the Bitcoin SV Academy launched an introductory level course to Bitcoin Development. Jake Jones was one of the first to enrol and complete the certified course.
Bitcoin Association’s Liz Louw caught up with him for his feedback on the experience.
Introduction to Bitcoin Development course feedback
BSV Academy: Tell us about your level of experience in computer science and development.
Jake Jones: I have a degree in computer science and worked as a software developer for a little while. My current role is more business focussed, but I’m still actively developing and maintaining software. I'd say I have an intermediate level of development experience in a variety of languages and systems these days.
I reckon the Bitcoin SV academy's introductory courses are accessible to people starting out in development - those with a junior to intermediate skill level. They provide a great introduction to Bitcoin and Bitcoin development.
BSV Academy: How much did you know about blockchain development when you started doing the course?
Jake Jones: I was first introduced to Bitcoin a long time ago through a connection I made through online games and groups I was in. I didn't get in-depth experience until I got involved in blockchain development in 2016. It was right around the culmination of the big block versus small block debate, and the situation piqued my interest.
For the record, I have always been a big blocker. When Bitcoin's scaling was halted around 2013, it killed off its potential, and I couldn't see how it would be useful. When the big block vs small block debate heated up in 2016, with Bitcoin Cash splitting from Bitcoin Core in 2017 and then Bitcoin SV from Bitcoin Cash in 2018, it renewed all the possibilities of this amazing technology. I’m excited about the prospect of helping develop what I see as arguably the most important innovation in contemporary history. Bitcoin is a low-entropy information substrate that cultivates high-entropy information and ultimately, innovation. Its importance to data security, integrity, and accessibility can’t be overstated.
BSV Academy: Would the Bitcoin development introductory course be accessible to somebody who didn't have any Blockchain experience?
Jake Jones: Definitely, yes. The introduction to development course is geared towards people who are new to Bitcoin and blockchain. I would suggest starting with the introduction to Bitcoin theory course and then taking on the introduction to Bitcoin development course. The development course makes use of Node.JS, so if people are familiar with that, they'll find the course very accessible.
BSV Academy: What was your motivation for doing the introduction to Bitcoin theory and Bitcoin development courses?
Jake Jones: Both personal interest and business interest. I'm the IT and marketing manager and CTO of a consulting firm right now, and we have some applications in mind for BSV. Blockchain is pervasive in every industry, and it's going to become more so over time. I want to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can, and when BSV split from BCH in 2018, I knew it was going to be the best solution going forward, so the Bitcoin SV Academy is a natural fit for me.
I started with the introduction to Bitcoin theory course, and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to continue learning from the material the association has developed. Although I'm working for the Bitcoin SV Academy as a curriculum content contributor now, I started the development course before I joined and finished it shortly thereafter.
BSV Academy: How would you describe the nature of the course material: is it mostly theoretical or are there some coding assignments involved?
Jake Jones: It's a mix of the two. There's some great introductory practical material you can apply right away. It doesn't offer an end to end solution, but it gives you an introduction to the concepts and some libraries. It uses the Node.JS shell as a way to demonstrate the examples, so if you don't have a development background, it might be a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to apply it in certain situations but it provides an excellent base that you can build upon, and it will help you develop the skills you need to build blockchain apps on BSV.
BSV Academy: Do the assessments require you to do coding?
Jake Jones: For the most part, the assessments are theoretical, while the practical assignments reinforce the concepts. There are, however, some tough questions that require you to know the coding concepts.
BSV Academy: How much time did you spend working through the course material and studying towards the assessments?
Jake Jones: Because I have a pretty good development background, I didn't need to spend a lot of time on studying. I applied some of the knowledge that I already have to work through the concepts and the chapters. For somebody starting off, you may need to invest some time going through each chapter to understand it, take a break from it, and review it again before doing each assessment. It is a lot of information. It's like a survey for the introduction to development toolsets that are out there.
BSV Academy: Would you say the course added value to your knowledge and experience?
Jake Jones: Absolutely, yes. I'd recommend that everybody who is looking to get into Bitcoin development takes the course. I've found that there's a pretty steep learning curve to climb when you're coming into the Bitcoin space from cryptocurrency. The crypto space is myopic to payments with almost no focus or information on data. Even solidity (although it has great supporting documentation) is jargon-heavy, and Ethereum is ultimately not very useful when chain congestion causes transaction fees of $100+USD.
Also, since Bitcoin Core decided to cap the BTC block size at 4MB and have stopped following the Bitcoin design, there aren’t really any step-by-step resources to help you understand the basics of Bitcoin's protocol and architecture, and then how to apply that with the available libraries, or if there are, they haven’t been maintained or updated since 2013. In other words, crypto is a dead-end; if you want to actually utilise this fantastic technology for anything, BSV is the only answer. The introduction to Bitcoin development course does a great job of introducing the fundamental development concepts and gives you some examples that you can play around with and figure things out with.
BSV Academy: How would you describe the introduction to Bitcoin development course's focus?
Jake Jones: The course focuses on one pattern in particular, which is the storing of data on-chain. It focuses on tooling developed by a variety of entities in the BSV community, including but not limited to: Unwriter, Tokenized, Run, and Bitcoin Computer, and how these tools make use of OP_RETURN. OP_RETURN is an approach that, while still popular and being used, is a bit limiting with respect to Bitcoin Script, and there has been a bit of a shift toward using OP_PUSHDATA to achieve the same outcome in a more elegant and extensible way. Furthermore, there are many different ways of interacting with the blockchain, and while on-chain data is a great use-case and will continue to be, P2P (person-to-person) transactions will likely be the most significant use-case in time.
Once you have this foundation, you'll be able to play around with the concepts. I strongly encourage people to build a couple of test apps and libraries/APIs, and use Postman, the WhatsOnChain API, and sCrypt to play around with putting transactions on-chain and on Testnet. Once you're comfortable with that, you can start looking at more advanced concepts like SPV channels, and they will likely seem quite intuitive.
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